A short drive from Dunedin, historic Port Chalmers offers an interesting mix of heritage attractions, cafés and galleries.
This deep water port has strong historical ties to the European settlement of the Otago area. Founded in 1844, the early wooden buildings were soon replaced with brick and stone as the wealth of the Otago gold rush began to flow. Many of these early sturdy homes remain, forming part of the bohemian charm of this seaside town.
In 1882, the first frozen meat exports from New Zealand left through Port Chalmers. This trade continues today through the adjacent modern container terminal. Several early Antarctic expeditions left from Port Chalmers, and there remains a memorial to Captain Scott, whose 1901 and 1910 expeditions departed from here.
Port Chalmers' seafaring museum is housed in the original 1877 stone post office building. It has a maritime collection and a settlers' collection, telling the stories of early pioneers and many port characters who have lived here over the years.
Something of an artists' colony today, the township is a popular weekend excursion for Dunedin locals. The harbourside setting, intriguing galleries and relaxing eateries, all within easy walking distance of each other, make for a great day out. The area is also popular for salmon and trout fishing from October to April.
Functional facts: Approx. population 1400, visitor centre, limited accommodation, basic shops.